International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Molina Theissen Case: Court Orders Creation of a Commission to Search for Disappeared Persons and Other Reparations

In the aftermath of the May 23 guilty verdict against four senior military officials for crimes against humanity, aggravated sexual assault, and enforced disappearance in the Molina Theissen case, High Risk Court “C” convened a reparations hearing on May 28. The Molina Theissen family did not request economic reparations, which they had already received from the State of Guatemala after the 2004 judgement by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights found Guatemala responsible for the enforced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen.

Former Army Chief of Staff and retired army general Benedicto Lucas Garcia participated via videoconference from the military hospital, as he has for the last several hearings of the proceedings, while the other three military officials convicted in the … Continue Reading

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Bemba Appeal Verdict Due Tomorrow

Tomorrow, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will announce the verdict in appeals against Jean Pierre Bemba’s conviction and the 18-year prison sentence handed to him two years ago.

The former Congolese vice president, who has been in the court’s custody since July 2008, has asked the Appeals Chamber to quash his conviction or to lower the sentence and release him even if the conviction is upheld. The court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has asked judges to raise the prison sentence to 25 years.

Bemba was unanimously convicted over two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape); and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging). The crimes were committed during an armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) … Continue Reading

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The Ongwen Trial: The Prosecution’s Case in Numbers

On April 13, the prosecution formally concluded presenting their evidence in the International Criminal Court trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Below are some key numbers pertaining to the prosecution’s case.

142 days: The time it took for prosecution witnesses to testify. The first prosecution witness began testifying on January 16, 2017. The last one concluded their testimony on April 12, 2018.

69 witnesses: The number of prosecution witnesses who testified before the International Criminal Court (ICC) between January 2017 and April 2018. A wide range of witnesses testified, including experts, members of Ugandan security agencies, former members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and survivors of attacks on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP).

Categories … Continue Reading

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Bemba Appeal Judgment: New Fact Sheet

On Friday, June 8, at 16.00 hrs local time, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in The Hague will deliver its judgment on the appeal of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the trial chamber in March, 2016.

The Open Society Justice Initiative has produced a fact sheet summarizing the issues involved, which can be downloaded as a pdf  from the Open Society Foundations website by clicking here.


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Do Victims Feel Adequately Represented in Ongwen’s Trial?

On April 13, 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda notified the court that the prosecution had concluded presenting its case against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. This paved way for the second phase of the trial, in which the ICC judges permitted two teams of victims’ representatives to call witnesses to testify about the harm they suffered during the conflict in northern Uganda. This article explores community member’s reactions to this development and whether those in northern Uganda feel they have been adequately represented.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP): Lukodi, Abok, … Continue Reading

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Two Judges Decline to Recuse Themselves From Bemba Reparations Proceedings

Two International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have declined to recuse themselves from the panel that will determine the reparations that former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba will pay to victims of his crimes.

In a memo to the court’s presidency, judges Geoffrey Henderson and Chang-ho Chung deny being biased against Bemba and cite various inaccuracies in his February 28, 2018 request for the disqualification of Trial Chamber III judges. Besides Henderson and Chung, the recusal motion also applied to Judge Joyce Aluoch, but her tenure as a judge at the ICC ended in March.

The two judges, whose redacted memo was published on May 24, said they had carefully reflected on the decisions taken throughout the course of the reparations proceedings and … Continue Reading


Over 2000 Community Members in Lukodi Attend Annual Memorial Prayers

On May 19, 2018, community members commemorated the 14th anniversary of the Lukodi massacre that resulted in the death of 69 people. Over 2,000 community members, including representatives of civil society organizations and local leaders, attended the event.

For the second year running, the memorial prayers were held in the shadow of the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Dominic Ongwen, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander accused of leading the attack on Lukodi. This article explores the perspectives of community members regarding the significance of the prayers amidst Ongwen’s trial and their expectations for justice.

Ongwen is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the 2004 attack on Lukodi. He has also been … Continue Reading

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Gbagbo and Blé Goudé Trial: Here’s What Blocks the Work of Gbagbo’s Defense

In a petition addressed to the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo’s defense referred to difficulties that hinder the proper pursuit of proceedings.

The defense of the former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo would like to have “as soon as possible, a corrected and definitive French version of the Mid-Trial Brief from the prosecution.” In a request dated May 25, 2018, Gbagbo’s lead lawyer Emmanuel Altit wished to see the Registry of the ICC grant his request.

In his document written in French and available on the court’s website Altit justified this request by the will of the defense to have a document “with no inaccuracies.”

“It is all the more important for the Defense to be able … Continue Reading

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Expert says Acholi culture cannot mitigate all the effects of LRA conflict

A psychiatrist told the International Criminal Court that Acholi culture does not have all the answers for addressing the effects of the almost-20 year conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government.

Psychiatrist Seggane Musisi testified on Wednesday and Thursday the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander, about Acholi culture and trauma. He told the court that the conflict led to northern Uganda’s having many orphans and many women having children because of rape, situations he said Acholi culture never had to confront before.

Musisi said that women with children born out of rape faced severe difficulty earning a livelihood because most are not married and therefore do not have land to cultivate.

He said a … Continue Reading


Most Victims in Katanga Case Opt for Housing or Income Generation Support as Reparations

A lawyer representing victims in the case of former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga says the majority of victims have chosen to receive support for housing or income-generating activities under the reparations regime ordered by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges. Victims can choose between support for housing, education for their children, or for an income-generating activity.

Katanga, 40, was convicted in May 2014 for crimes committed in Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003. The order for reparations was issued in early 2017, and in March this year the appeals chamber upheld it, following appeals by the defense and by victims’ lawyers. In their appeal, defense lawyers asked for Katanga’s financial liability to be reduced, pleading that it … Continue Reading

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